I’ve been watching Sons of Anarchy recently.
It follows the story of Jax Teller – a young man struggling to follow in his father’s footsteps as leader of a biker gang.
Jemma is Jax’ mother.
She’s a real tough cookie – a biker mom. In one scene she talks to a priest who tells her:
Service to others is the only thing that keeps the self-loathing to a tolerable level.
I think he’s implying that his self-loathing for his own sin is so extreme, that his gratitude to God for taking His sin away can only be expressed through service to others.
Step 12 of the 12 Step Recovery Program is also all about service to others.
Jemma said she didn’t know how to serve others. She didn’t feel she had anything to offer. The priest told her she was serving him, now, just by listening to him, just by being there and being a listening ear. After all, we all need someone to listen to us.
The priest told her to look out for opportunities to serve because God presents them to us every day. We don’t have to sign up to volunteer for homeless shelters or drug rehab centers. We don’t have to train to be medics or join the Red Cross, although of course God needs people to do this work. But God presents opportunities for us to serve others every day in small, simple ways.
Look out for them.
It makes you wonder if it’s really going to be the people we think sitting closest to Jesus at that Great Wedding Celebration between Christ and His church in Heaven.
Me, I’m such a ‘bad’ Christian, I fail so much every day that I’ll just be happy to be there. I’ll be happy to be the homeless guy sitting on the floor, waiting for scraps to drop from the table (and I probably will be). Seriously, the way I fail in my life every day I don’t even deserve a place at the table.
But thanks be to God it doesn’t depend on how good at being a Christian we are. It doesn’t depend on what we do. It doesn’t depend on our good deeds. It isn’t our own ability to be great human beings that gets us an invitation to that Great Feast. Being ‘a good person’ doesn’t open the door for us to spend eternity with God.
We only get to go to God’s great party because He loves us so much. We only get to go because He loves us enough to die for us, in our place, on a cross. We only get to go because He has made us supernaturally holy by the power of His spirit as a free gift.
We have been made holy by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ…
- Hebrews 10:10.
I’ve received some messages on my blog recently about how, if we don’t live up to God’s moral standard for the rest of our lives, we will lose our place in Heaven.
I’ve received some messages saying we can lose our salvation.
I pity those who believe this.
I really pity them.
If they really believe their acts of goodness is the reason God invites them to that Great Feast then they have missed the good news of the gospel. The good news of the gospel is that God has invited us to spend eternity with Him because of His great love for us. It is a free gift. Paul makes this clear:
Not of yourselves. It is the gift of God.
- Ephesians 2:8.
Those people who believe they can spend eternity with God because of their own ability to live good lives will be so proud while sitting at that table. I expect they expect to have a seat next to Jesus. I expect they hope to be like John at The Last Supper reclining with their head on Jesus’ chest.
And I hope they are.
I must admit, that does make me a little jealous.
I want to be close to Jesus at the table. I want to recline with him. I want to be ‘the disciple who Jesus loved.’
Yet I know, in my heart of hearts, I’ll be lucky to even be there.
I believe, absolutely, that I will be there.
But I won’t be at the head of the queue.
If Heaven were a nightclub I won’t be the one who the bouncers wave in first. I won’t be given the royal treatment. I’ll be the one who has to wait out in the cold for ages, and then only get in because I know someone ‘cool.’
I’ll only get in because I know Jesus.
Perhaps, once inside, the Prince of that Heavenly nightclub might wave at me from a distance, across the dance floor. He’ll be sitting, enjoying the best wine, surrounded by beautiful angels and all those superstar preachers will be with Him. Mother Theresa will be there. So will Billy Graham. TD Jakes will be sitting there in that VIP section. So will Benny Hinn, Joseph Prince, Creflo Dollar. CS Lewis. John The Baptist. The VIP section will be awesome. All those superstar preachers and old school teachers. I wonder if John the Baptist will be dressed in a loin cloth or will he upgrade to Versace?
Me…I’ll just be a nobody, as usual. I’ll be lucky to be there. But I’ll be grateful. And if Jesus were to come over and say hello, shake my hand, or even give me a hug, I would be so proud – not of myself – just proud to know Him. And if he were to offer me a drink at his table, I’d be so delighted, so excited. But overall, I’d just be so grateful to be there.
Because I feel like Paul, who says:
Here is a trustworthy saying which deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.
To get invited to the party is something to celebrate.
We prodigals come home and our Heavenly Father kills the fattened calf, puts His best robe on us and puts a ring on our finger.
And in gratitude for that great gift, that gift that cost so much suffering, that gift that cost the blood of Christ on the cross, let’s keep our eyes and hearts open for those small opportunities for service.
Because Me, I want to say thank you. But not because I want a better seat at the table. Not because I want a seat with the cool crew in the VIP section of Nightclub Heaven. I know I don’t deserve that.
No. I want to help people because I know how much He has helped me. I myself am an ex-addict, ex-homeless, ex-criminal.
I want to help others because of these words of Jesus:
Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of my brothers and sisters, you did for me.
- Matthew 25:40.
Like Jemma, let’s look out for those small, simple opportunities for service that God presents to us every day.